MPI to Produce Dramatic Comedy Based on the True Story of Pinball Wizard Roger Sharpe

October 29, 2020

The Moving Picture Institute (MPI) announced today the production of Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game, a new feature-length dramedy based on the true story of writer and pinball wizard Roger Sharpe’s journey to overturn New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball. The award-winning writing and directing duo Austin and Meredith Bragg will helm the MPI Original Film with principal photography slated to begin in 2021.

In the 1940s pinball was banned by New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who claimed the game was one of chance, not skill, and thus a form of gambling. At the time La Guardia instructed the New York Police Department to undertake prohibition-style raids, dumping thousands of the offending machines into the Hudson River. Many cities across the country also banned the game, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Thanks to Sharpe’s efforts, the New York City ban was lifted in 1976 with Kokomo, Indiana the last to legalize the game in 2016.

“The Moving Picture Institute is excited to work with the Braggs to bring this eccentric piece of New York City history to life,” said Rob Pfaltzgraff, president of MPI. “We hope this film will bring a dose of comic relief to audiences at a time when we need it most.”

“This is an amazing story and we’re thrilled to be working with MPI to tell it,” said the Braggs. “The history of pinball is fascinating and uniquely American. Roger’s impact on the game is well-known to pinball fans but worthy of wider attention. We’re excited to work with Roger to share his remarkable journey.”

Most recently The Bragg Brothers wrote and directed the MPI Original comedic short A Piece of Cake starring Rich Sommer (GLOW, Mad Men), which was nominated for Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival and has gone on to win several awards, including Best Comedy and the Audience Choice Award in Comedy at the Oscar-qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival, presented by Heartland Film. Previously, their web series, The Defenders of Stan, was bought by Warner Bros. Television. Together they won the 2016 HP Masters of Short Film competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The Braggs have produced projects for Turner Broadcasting, Visa, Atlas Obscura, AT&T, The Smithsonian, The Washington Post, Current TV, and two pilots for Warner Bros.’s online division. As producers for Reason TV, their work has garnered three first place wins for Best Comedy at the Los Angeles Press Club Awards and a National Magazine Award nomination. 

Pinball will be produced by MPI, which most recently released the 2019 feature film Miss Virginia starring Uzo Aduba (Mrs. America, Orange Is the New Black). Lana Link and Rob Pfaltzgraff are set to produce and Nick Reid and Roger Sharpe will executive produce.

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